The regular season is finally back, and D.C. United takes on Sporting Kansas City this Saturday. Ben Olsen has been remarkably consistent in his first choice starters throughout the preseason, with the main wrinkle being Sean Franklin at center back and the corresponding move of Nick DeLeon to right back. Olsen is intimately familiar with what Bobby Boswell brings to the table, and I still think there is a chance that, after evaluating Franklin throughout the preseason, he goes back to the player he knows best.
Not a very big chance, however. Ben Olsen is going to stick with the lineup that he featured throughout the preseason because it fits the new style of play even better. Sean Franklin is more athletic and a better passer than Boswell, and Olsen seems to value that even moreso with the 4-1-4-1. This, of course, also allows Nick DeLeon to be back on the outside of the field, where he is more comfortable, as the team’s right back.
The midfield will be exactly what you expect it to be, with Lloyd Sam and Patrick Nyarko manning the wings and Marcelo Sarvas and Jared Jeffrey in central midfield. Luciano Acosta picked up a knock in the last preseason game against the Philadelphia Union and the team has been extremely tight-lipped about his condition. If he’s healthy, he obviously starts; if he’s not, then Julian Buescher would be the natural fit to take his place, but he is also dealing with a slight injury. If neither of them can go, I would expect Sebastian LeToux to get the start in central midfield: he can play aggressively to match the tempo and physicality of Peter Vermes’ Sporting Kansas City. Patrick Mullins will be up top.
There is also a chance that Ian Harkes could start, but I think he is more likely to challenge for that role later in the spring or summer, after he’s gotten some more MLS training and minutes under his belt.
All of this would leave a bench of Travis Worra, Bobby Boswell, Maxim Tissot, Ian Harkes, Jose Ortiz, Sebastian LeToux, and Lamar Neagle. What do you want to see Ben Olsen do tomorrow when real soccer comes back to reality?!